Tag: technology

In a fascinating account of the private space programs of Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, Christian Davenport explains how the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) has its origins in the geopolitics of the Cold War. From pg 59: Eisenhower entered the room at 10: 31 a.m., and decided to get right to it, asking, “Do […]

In the last few days, I’ve been reading Hilary Clinton’s What Happened and reflecting on it as an expression of a political centrism which I suspect is coming to an end. These self-defined ‘modernisers’ sought to adapt their respective political parties to what they saw as a new reality, necessitating that they be ‘change-makers’ while […]

Over the next few years, I’ll be working on a collaborative project on trans- and post-humanism, building on the Centre for Social Ontology’s previous Social Morphogenesis series. My main contribution to this will be co-editing a volume, Strangers in a Familiar Land, with Doug Porpora and Colin Wight as well as exploring digital technology and […]

In 1988 Pierre Bourdieu chaired a commission reviewing the curriculum at the behest of the minister of national education. The scope of the review was broad, encompassing a revision of subjects taught in order to strengthen the coherence and unity of the curriculum as a whole. In order to inform this work, the commission early […]

One recurring theme in Brad Stone’s excellent The Upstarts is how technological assumptions encoded into legislation become focal points for conflicts with ‘disruptive’ companies. For instance, as loc 2348 illustrates, the novel dispatch system used by Uber complicated the distinction between taxis and livery cars: Stressing that Uber cars were not hailed or even electronically hailed […]

From The Monsters of Educational Technology, by Audrey Watters, loc 563: Why are we building learning management systems? Why are we building computer-assisted instructional tech? Current computing technologies demand neither. Open practices don’t either. Rather, it’s a certain institutional culture and a certain set of business interests that do. What alternatives can we build? What […]

As you may know, executive coaching is an increasingly common phenomenon, particularly in some sectors like tech. This is how Eric Schmidt and his co-author describe the necessity of it in How Google Works loc 2440: Whenever you watch a world-class athlete perform, you can be sure that there is a great coach behind her success. […]

From Spam, by Finn Brunton, pg 89: “Alan Solomon . . . a veteran antivirus researcher with a PhD in economics, critiqued the virus metaphor, suggesting that this medical/ biological metaphor of ‘virus’ is ‘too emotive’ . . . Instead, he proposed ‘weeds’ as a more appropriate concept for describing the threat of computer code.” […]

An interesting case discussed on pg 85 of Unforbidden Pleasures, by Adam Phillips: We may live in the aftermath of the myth of the Fall, and the even longer aftermath of the myth of Oedipus, but the first traffic lights were invented in the United States after the First World War. The traditional mutual accommodation travellers had been […]

One of my major irritants is technological metaphors for subjectivity, not least of all because I slip into invoking them myself when I use terms like ‘cognitive load’. The underlying idea that ‘the brain is like a computer’, as well as the complex network of associated metaphors leading from it, frustrates me because it seems […]

From Addiction By Design, by Natasha Dow Schüll, pg 19: In a strategic response to growing suggestions that gambling machines are to some extent implicated in gambling addiction, the American Gaming Association released a 2010 white paper called “Demystifying Slot Machines.” Echoing the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) famous slogan— “Guns Don’t Kill People, People Kill People”— […]

From The Boy Kings, by Katherine Losse, pg 134: That Sunday, after I’d slept off our long night, I logged in to Facebook to see an endless stream of videos that the boys had filmed at the club. In them, the boys were not chatting up or kissing girls they had met, as I had […]

From The Boy Kings, by Katherine Losse, pg 13: I liked to listen to Mark’s discussion of the product philosophy and goals at these meetings, which were to me the most fascinating part of the job: what were we trying to do, with this fledgling Internet identity registration system? “I just want to create information […]